‘Family Guy’ Takes YouTuber’s Video Game Clip, Issues Copyright Claim on Original Video


Fox has shown some amazing gall, exploiting YouTube’s Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) policies to protect a video clip that doesn’t even belong to them.

Konami’s Double Dribble, released in 1986, was lauded particularly for its player animations and for being the first arcade game to feature the national anthem. It wasn’t a perfect game, though. There was an easily exploitable glitch that allowed players to perform a strange looking three point dunk from the corner of the court that almost never fails.

This technical faux pas, infamous in old-school gaming circles, was immortalized in a brief YouTube clip uploaded in February of 2009 by user “sw1tched.”

This is an automatic shot my brothers and I found on the NES Double Dribble back in the 80’s when it was released. I know others know this also, but as long as you release at the right point it is automatic. The half court shot I took at the end goes in 80% of the time, but i didn’t want to keep recording….HAHA

Apparently, Fox’s Family Guy decided to make a nostalgic dedication of its own. Or rather, of sw1tched’s own. In this past week’s episode, Family Guy used a full minute of that YouTube video, then covered it with narration by characters Peter Griffin and Cleveland Brown. It’s a typically “stretched” joke from the show, with 60 seconds of Peter yelling “Corner three!” to an increasingly annoyed Cleveland.

And the story would likely have ended there, had they credited the source — or even just moved on completely. But it doesn’t, because a DMCA takedown almost immediately removed the original video from sw1tched. However, Fight for the Future’s Jeff Lyon told TorrentFreak he believes the culprit could be YouTube’s automated content identification system:

It’s most likely that this is just another example of YouTube’s Content ID system automatically taking down a video without regard to actual copyright ownership and fair use. As soon as FOX broadcast that Family Guy episode, their robots started taking down any footage that appeared to be reposted from the show — and in this case they took down the footage they stole from an independent creator.

Lyons believes that it’s “not hyperbolic to call this mass censorship,” because the service is unable to distinguish between fair use and copyright infringement. “Instead of copyright holders having to prove a video is infringing, their scanning software can take it down automatically, and then it falls on the creator to prove they had a right to post it,” he said.

Takedownabuse.org has responded to this latest abuse of DMCA with a petition calling out Fox on making it “impossible to fight DMCA takedowns.” Whether or not it’s too late for this specific instance, the petition for “strict penalties on false takedowns to protect fair use” is something that all independent content creators will want to get behind.

This is far from the first instance of haphazard DMCA use. The Electronic Frontier Foundation demonstrated the hazards of DMCA abuse last February, including a patently absurd DMCA violation citing their own website as infringing upon one album on Spanish music label “Total Wipes Music Group.” The page in question? An anti-surveillance guide on using PGP on Mac OSX, of all things.

Follow Nate Church @Get2Church on Twitter for the latest news in gaming and technology, and snarky opinions on both.